There are multiple reasons airline customer service will be in constant change. The industry itself is
extremely fluid and vulnerable to regulation changes, fuel costs, political impacts, and advances in
technology. Profit margins are amazingly thin in the industry and as a result competition is fierce.
Increased passenger travel also puts a great deal of strain on airlines especially with their ability to
provide consistent quality customer service.
Advancements in technology such as online ticketing, ticket kiosks, and computerized phone
answering systems limit or minimize the number of human interactions passengers have with airline
representatives. Even with this interaction reduced, the airlines that continually provide positive
customer service experiences will have an easier time drawing passengers to their carrier.
This lecture will discuss various avenues of customer service throughout the airline industry for the
foreseeable future. With an industry in such constant change these avenues may change quite
Airlines Tighten Pockets
Airlines are increasingly looking for ways to cut costs to maintain an operational advantage over
competition and increase profit margins. Low cost carriers are perhaps the most successful at this
and have created many ways to increase profit margins. Two of the industries most successful cost
cutters are Ryanair and Southwest Airlines.
Ryanair is an Irish airline based out of Dublin, Ireland. Ryanair is Europe's largest low-cost airline
and is enormously successful. Their success is largely due to the deregulation of Europe's airline
industry, the low-cost fares they provide, and a radical management style similar to Southwest
Airlines. With all of their success they have left some passengers frustrated at the way they do
Ryanair is one of the most aggressive airlines for passing fees onto the consumer. They charge for
almost everything including: Checked bags, a wheelchair levy, sports equipment, and musical
equipment as well as credit card fees, debit card fees, priority boarding fees, online check-
in/priority fees, infant fees, flight change fees, and a name change fees. The airline also offers no
toll-free number for passengers to contact them, and if there is a flight change they will notify you
only through e-mail.
Ryanair's stingy practices have made them one of the most profitable airlines in the world, however,
that has come at a customer service cost. In a 2006 TripAdvisor poll, Ryanair was voted the "least
favorite airline", which was largely attributed to the unfriendly staff. Their practices of poor
customer service and resultant profitability defy conventional thinking that customer service is a
major key in repeat business. If airlines in the United States adopted these practices we will have
much more unfriendly skies in the future.